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How Can an App Bolster a Brand? Here's How.

How Can an App Bolster a Brand? Here's How.

July 21, 2009

A 3-step blueprint for anyone rolling out a Big Zig

In addition to its traditional advertising that has already generated an amazing 300,000 downloads since October, Apartment Guide is using Twitter to promote its app, which now has more than 2,000 followers! Great idea: get your advertisers to sponsor your product as you reach out to more people. In this case, Apartment Guide is offering a $15,000 sweepstakes prize just for sending a tweet about the app.

I remember the days when searching for an apartment was an all-day affair with a newspaper opened beside me in the car as I drove from one place to the next. What a hassle that was. But what choice did we have? The Internet made searching a little easier.

But shopping for an apartment now is even easier thanks to a new iPhone app from Apartment Guide. I got a chance to meet David Quinlan, Director of Innovation at Apartment Guide's parent company Primedia Inc. and I was blown away by the things he and his staff are doing and how they're using this new app to create a Big Zig.

Launched in October, it's had just under 300,000 downloads and is listed as one of the top 20 free utility apps. The app was also featured in one of Apple's iPhone television commercials. To be named among the top 20 apps is incredible in a market with more than 65,000 free and paid apps and to get free TV publicity in an iPhone commercial is remarkable. Getting yours to stand out is the name of the game!

Apartment Guide has done just that, creating a Big Zig that is now dominating the apartment search app market. Here's how they did it and how you can create a Big Zig too.

  • Deliver a solution your hungry fish need most. As Quinlan says, 'We're trying to capture the apartment shopper when it's most convenient for them.' The app was built entirely around what apartment shoppers need most: the ability to search, view, call and email apartment listings. The app is also available now on mobile phones running on Google Android.
  • Use the solution to create brand awareness. The app is such a valuable tool for shoppers that it's created top of mind positioning for the Apartment Guide magazine among hundreds of thousands of consumers who may not ever use the magazine, but they do know and trust the brand. The ROI, Quinlan says, has been ten-fold. (Costs to develop an app can range from a few thousand dollars to about $10,000 to $20,000. Primedia hired a third-party team to develop the app under the condition that they also teach their developers how to create apps so they can build new apps.)
  • Tell the world about it. In addition to traditional sources of advertising, such as ads in its print publications and on TV and radio, Primedia is also promoting the app on Twitter. It's offering a $15,000 cash prize for the winner of a sweepstakes. You just have to follow the Apartment Guide on Twitter and send a tweet promoting the contest and you're entered into the contest. Apartment Guide now has more than 2,000 followers!

So should everyone rush out to invest in an app? Of course not, but the 3-step formula above is a terrific blueprint for everyone when creating a Big Zig.